For those fortunate to be blessed with children the biggest responsibility that they will feel they have is what they teach their children. There is so much to learn for a child to become a fully functioning adult and that is before we factor in the quirks and idiosyncrasies in our beloved economy. With such complexity that it is difficult to teach an adult personal finance lessons, you can only expect it to be compounded when you try to teach personal financial management to a child. While it is difficult, it is not impossible to teach some personal finance lessons to children.
Set an example
Please don’t shoot the messenger. The best way to teach children about personal financial management is to set an example. Yes, that means you should be good or at least conversant with personal financial management. After all, children learn from you even when you are not teaching. While we’re on the subject there is a part of this many people ignore that is very important. The way you communicate with children about money. Telling children things like “we can’t afford this” creates disdain or resentment that manifests in a desire to splurge when they have money. Explain to children the full reasons behind choosing to do one thing over another.
Pocket money allocations
Something a lot of parents and guardians do is give children pocket money or allowances. Usually providing the same amount of money on a daily, weekly or fortnightly basis. This is an important element of learning about personal finance. It teaches children how to allocate money and make choices. However it teaches children how to spend someone else’s money and above and beyond that, the money automatically renews, they don’t learn how to make money.
Chores for pay
Paying your children to do chores around the house is another popularly used to teach children about money management. For those who grew up with chores for no pay as a part of life, the idea seems at the very best absurd. However, there are merits to this as it teaches children how to make money; exchange value. I think it’s best to tread carefully with this one. Chores are a part of life and I think paying children to do dishes will set them up for disappointment in adult life when there is no reward for doing dishes. You might want to do this with bigger tasks like weekly or monthly cleaning tasks.
Teaching children the importance of saving is also vital in their finance lessons. It doesn’t matter if the source of money is pocket money, chores, birthday endowment or anything else. Children need to understand the mechanics of saving. You can teach them to save towards a goal. This is perhaps the unspoken tip; to teach your children responsibility for their goals. Trying to teach children to save for the sake of saving will not likely end well though when I challenged myself to save in my teens I ended up with seed capital for my business.
If you’re going to have trouble teaching children anything about personal finance it is investing. On the stock market, for example, many investors have a 10 to 30-year outlook. When 10 years is your entire life, half of which you cannot remember such outlooks are difficult to teach people with. Never mind that investment products generally have a minimum age of 18. However, there are opportunities to teach investing to children, most of them around investing in businesses.
I cannot back this up with any scientific study but many if not all will agree that understanding our privilege where it exists and approaching it with gratitude is all part of understanding your personal financial growth. Out of abundance, we learn to give to others. Abundance requires acknowledgement and gratitude for what we have. So while the ultimate goal here is charity, it is the gratitude for what we have that is the important lesson you can teach to children about personal finance here.
Finally, there are two lessons that you can also use to teach children about personal finance. Firstly eating part of their food before they get to eat it. 24.72% or 41.20% depending on whether you want to teach them personal or corporate taxation. The other lesson you should teach them is that people don’t always honour their debts. We all as adults recall money our parents owe us from our childhood years and have not paid back. These two lessons build character.